Is free online-news killing the newspaper?


On Cross Country Checkup
Newspapers are struggling to stay alive in a world of free online news ...Canada's two national papers among them.  Some are moving to online-only, or charging for access.

How do you get your news? Is free online-news killing the newspaper?
With guest host Suhana Meharchand.

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Canada's two national newspapers have recently taken steps to cut costs and try to increase revenues. The steps include cutting editions and charging for online news. They are just the latest in a series of changes as newspapers all over North America are feeling the pinch. Is it the tough economic times, or is it the fact that there are now so many other ways to get news, including online news sites, social media, RSS feeds, bloggers? With all these new options, people are getting used to not paying for news, and that hits newspapers more than most other sources.

For many decades newspapers have been at the centre of all newsgathering. It was the newspapers who paid for putting reporters' boots on the ground, all of whom fanned out and poked into everything happening in each community. The first serious competition came with the advent of that upstart TV, then of course came live 24 hour cable news, and more recently the Internet. But many online sources still rely on the strength of newspapers. They link to newspaper sites, to stories broken and written by newspaper reporters. And what's the first thing most broadcast news organizations do every morning? They check the newspapers.

So, if newspapers are in trouble ...what happens to the rest of what has become a multi-faceted news gathering world? Who has the deep pockets to pay for long term stories, investigative work and quality political coverage involving deep knowledge of the history and structure of government?

And what about the consumers of news? Now that online surfers have become accustomed to getting their news for free, is it possible to erect paywalls and try to get some money out of those same people. Or will they simply move elsewhere?

We want to know what you think? How do you get your news? How do you judge its trustworthiness? Do newspapers represent a model that has now become outdated? Who will pay ...and how ...for the kind of news that takes a lot of legwork, research and sweat to bring it to fruition?

Our topic today: "Is online news killing newspapers? How do you get your news?"

I'm Suhana Meharchand ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 159 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


  • John Stackhouse
    Editor-in-Chief of The Globe and Mail newspaper.

  • George Affleck
    General Manager of the Community Newspapers Association of BC and Yukon.

  • Peter Stockland
    Publisher Convivium magazine, former Editor-In-Chief of The Montreal Gazette and former editorial page editor of the Calgary Herald.

  • Derrick de Kerckhove
    Author of The Skin of Culture and Connected Intelligence and former Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. He now teaches at the University of Naples and the Open University, Barcelona.


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